President Barack Obama is traveling to Alaska in late August to visit the front lines of climate change, which he called "one of the greatest challenges we face this century".
He'll speak to a global Arctic leadership summit in Anchorage and also travel north to the Arctic. The White House says it's the first visit by a sitting president to the Alaskan Arctic
, says the Associated Press.
Obama says in a video posted to social media that he's going because Alaskans are on the front lines of climate change. He's pointing to melting glaciers and permafrost and says entire villages and ways of life are threatened.
The White House described Obama’s trip as part of an “all-out push” on climate-change issues during the final 18 months of his second term, says WSJ. The trip comes just weeks after his administration’s release of standards to limit carbon emissions from power plants.
The environmental groups have welcome Obama's visit to the Arctic. But they point out that the administration has approved permits allowing Shell to drill for oil in the region, even as the president decries the effects of climate change, which is largely driven by the burning of fossil fuels.
Announcing a tour of Alaska to highlight climate change would be deeply hypocritical if the President would then turn around and give Shell final approval to drill in the Arctic tomorrow, Greenpeace spokesman Travis Nichols said.
Later in September, Obama plans to talk with Pope Francis about
climate change when the pontiff visits the White House during a tour of the northeastern U.S., as both prepare for an international climate summit in Paris in December.